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11 must-try restaurants in Colorado Springs

Eat and drink your way through this diverse mix of chef-fueled newcomers, fine dining destinations and casual hot spots

Written by
Julie Dugale
&
Rebecca Treon
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Some might say Colorado Springs has long occupied the culinary shadow of its booming neighbor to the north, Denver. But the chefs and restaurateurs in this Front Range hub are committed to pushing the foodie envelope farther and farther, even as they strive to preserve the dining traditions that anchor this picturesque urban oasis at the foot of the Rockies.

In this active mountain town, you won’t run out of things to do or great meals to eat: From The Broadmoor’s impeccable offerings to the table-clothed service at the Pepper Tree, renowned staples continue to delight patrons with special-occasion grandeur and attention to detail. And the new kids in town, helmed by the likes of Food Network celebs and visionary chefs with international pedigrees, are adding a fusion-heavy pizazz that speaks to a younger, hipper, globally-minded clientele.

Combine those with a family-owned comfort-food institution, a sustainable farm-to-fork mecca, a craft cocktail paradise, an eclectic dinner-and-a-movie venue and a vegan-so-good-a-carnivore-would-eat-it establishment, and you’ve got an up-and-coming foodie haven that reflects the innovation—as well as the storied history—of the West.

Best restaurants in Colorado Springs

In 1951, sisters Ethel and Evelyn Parker cooked a family-style meal for 30 friends on their family ranch, beginning what was to become an area icon in the making: 70 years later, visitors and locals alike make a pilgrimage to the adobe dining room at Juniper Valley Ranch to dine on fried chicken, baked ham, and all the fixin's: potatoes and gravy, biscuits, coleslaw, and okra casserole plus a rotating dessert, all for the modest price of $23.25. The menu changes depending on the day of the week and reservations are a must.

Of the 20 restaurants, eateries, and lounges at The Broadmoor (the Springs’ historic, picturesque golf and spa resort), Sunday brunch at the Lake Terrace Dining Room is revered by locals, tourists and resort guests alike. Choose from 150 decadent items, like made-to-order eggs and crepes or the legendary Bananas Foster. Come dinnertime, Summit offers innovative cuisine paying homage to the magnificent backdrop of the Rockies with locally sourced ingredients. Indulge in the roasted Colorado lamb loin or the Colorado hunters style roasted beef tenderloin while you ogle the towering glass wine turret housing more than 500 bottles.

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Shuga’s
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Laura Y.

3. Shuga’s

Legend has it this tucked-out-of-the-way gem was a typewriter repair shop back in the day. Today, the funky gathering spot—think mismatched chairs and retro décor—boasts a cute patio and an eclectic, globally inspired menu. Don’t leave Shuga's without ordering the Brazilian Spicy Shrimp Soup and a slice of Almond Butter Cake. Make a night of it and get your dinner-and-a-movie fix at Shuga’s Thursday-night film showcase, Cinemaholix, which screens nostalgic hits like Stand By Me, A League of Their Own and Peggy Sue Got Married.

Started by Eddie and Rosemary Aguilar in 1976, El Taco Rey has been serving Colorado-style Mexican favorites ever since. The hole in the wall is the reciepient of numerous local, regional, and national awards for its green chile (among other dishes) and is still operated by the Aguilar's children and grandchildren. The menu is fairly straightforward: tacos, burritos, tamales, enchiladas (or some combination of these) served with Spanish rice and refried beans, smothered in their celebrated green chile.

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Chef James Africano was the Executive Chef at The Warehouse for several years before he and his wife, Shaundy bought the restaurant in 2015 and became the owners themselves. On the menu: Colorado-inspired fare with a modern twist (think blue corn jalapeno cheddar hushpuppies, wild boar and Pueblo green chile stew, Mongolian-style grilled elk, and black bean gnocchi). The locally sourced western menu is accompanied by Prohibition-era cocktails and the building (with its eye-tricking mural outside) holds an art gallery inside.

Two words: craft cocktails. They are to-die-for at this west-side hotspot (don’t bother ordering from the drink menu; just ask for the bartender’s choice and let yourself be wowed.) The zesty Asian-fusion gastropub eats at 503W, from flavorful street food bites to tangy noodle bowls, are a killer complement to the spirits: Korean Tacos, Bangkok [pork] Belly, Spicy Island Big Poke, Gaucho Burger, the list goes on, and should be sampled extensively.

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The Margarita at Pine Creek
Photograph: Courtesy of HOMA Cafe + Bar

7. The Margarita at Pine Creek

For almost 50 years, The Margarita at Pine Creek has been serving comfort food favorites on a family homestead, with an ever-evolving menu based on seasonal, local ingredients. The menu changes each week, but you can expect some classics, like eggs Benedict, and frittatas. Lunches include housemade bread with pimento cheese and bundt cake for dessert, and dinner menus will feature seafood, steak, and pork chops. Serving brunch, lunch, and dinner, live music on the Sunset Patio plus a round of margs are the making of a classic Colorado Springs evening.

Monse's Taste of El Salvador Pupuseria
Photograph: Courtesy of Monse's Pupuseria

8. Monse's Taste of El Salvador Pupuseria

Those searching for a taste of Central America needn't go far--Monse's Taste of El Salvador Pupuseria brings the flavors of owner Monse Hines' hometown Calchuapa to diners in Colorado Springs. The menu is 100% gluten-free and menu items can be adapted to be vegan, two important things to note. Breakfast dishes range from breakfast burritos and waffles to chilaquiles and Salvadoran favorites, while lunch and dinner entrees are combination plates of pupusas, which are the stars of menu. There are myriad fillings to chose from: carnitas, green chile and pintos, mushroom and cheese, and even vegan soyrizo and vegan cheese. Don't miss the colorful, Insta-worthy mural along the side of the restaurant.

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Chef Brother Luck is Colorado Springs' celebrity chef, having appeared on “Top Chef,” “Chopped,” and “Beat Bobby Flay” (where he actually did). Four by Brother Luck's menu also showcases a hybrid of culinary influences the Four Corners region draws from: Western European, Spanish Colonial, Native American and Latin American (think elk carpaccio, rabbit green chile, and langoustine sopes). It’s Southwest-ish cuisine—but way, way better. Also check out Lucky Dumpling, the chef's nod to his years spent cooking in Asia. Choose from bowls, bao, hearty entrees, and of course, dumplings.

Farm-to-table and sustainable fare is all the rage, but few do it with as much care as TILL Kitchen, right down to the compostable food containers and rustic-chic building made of reclaimed materials. This locavore’s paradise dresses up its locally raised and harvested meats and produce—it sources from farms across Colorado— with fresh, zesty flavors like pan-seared Colorado trout loaded with local bacon, fried green tomatillo, roasted poblano pico verde and Aleppo chile.

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Kinship Landing, a new boutique hotel in Colorado Springs,is home to HOMA, a departure from the run of the mill lobby bar. It's open to guests and the public alike, and features areas guests can nestle into, from cozy fireside lounges to a sunny enclosed beer garden. HOMA is open from 7am to 10pm, and covers both mornng coffee and cocktail hour plus meals throughout the day. Think their granolia, milk toast and chia pudding, grain bowls wth locally-sourced ingredients, hand pies, sandwiches, small bites, and desserts.

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